We read in 2 Cor 5: 21: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
There are a few concepts that will help us to understand that God’s grace is holy, and his holiness is gracious!
“Transferred righteousness” is a concept in Christian teaching which proposes that the "righteousness of Christ” is transferred to believers” — that is, we are treated as if it were ours, by grace through faith. God adopts sinners to become his children and find them “not guilty” despite their sinful nature and disobedient lives. We can call this gracious holiness.
We read about 3 persons in our text: God, Christ and the sinner. Before we can look at the meaning of Christ’s transferred righteousness, we need to look at and understand something about these three persons.
The first person that we meet is God, the Father. He is the God of heaven and earth, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; the Creator and Sustainer of all of creation, the God of grace and mercy.
He is a sovereign God. Our verse says, God "made" Christ to be sin. That was God's sovereign will and act. He alone is God and has the authority to do whatever he has to do in accordance with his holy, divine grace.
And God is just. God's justice makes the demand that sin must be punished. Regardless of the circumstances. God’s justice must be satisfied. His justice is not appeased with good words or prayers. God punishes sin because God is just. But remember that his justice is as gracious as his character. It is God's grace that made Christ to be sin for us. In his justice, God is gracious and does not desire the death and punishment of his children.
Christ "had no sin" (2 Cor 5:21) He did not inherit the guilt of original sin and lived a sinless and pure life since his conception until his death. He did not allow the evil that surrounds us all to ever enter his deeds or his heart.
Jesus never sinned. (Heb 1:3) The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being.
God is just – thus you must be punished. God also is merciful, and he wants to save you. What will our Lord do?
Christ makes the difference. It is Jesus who says:
as if I were the sinner and treat the sinner as if he were me." Christ stands
in the sinner's place.
was made to be sin. This means that he was treated as if he was guilty and as
if he was in the grip of evil.
was made to be sin. This means that God's wrath and anger against sin was
placed upon him. And his suffering assured that God’s holiness remained
Christ's righteousness – his perfect life and obedience to death, was transferred to us. And this is our assurance that God’s grace always remains holy.